Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Changing the rules

Encouraged by a cyber-friend in 2006, I set myself a goal to read 50 books in a year. And, despite having a newborn, I did it - I think I read 51. Maybe they werent the most literary reading - my tastes are rather narrow. Give me a good thriller and I'm happy. In Brisbane I would always be reading a book, and I'd look forward to sitting down for an hour or so at the end of the day when the kids were in bed, just to read.

At the start of 2007, knowing that we were moving here, I set a goal of just one book for the year... in french. When we arrived, excited and optimistic as only a new expat can be, I boldly stated I would read one english book and then one french book and so on. And I did it for 3 books - two french with one english in between. And then I found I would start a french book and either find it too hard or not interesting and I'd give up. And then I'd guiltily sneak off and read an english one. Or worse still, not read any book at all. What I'd planned as a way to improve my french, turned into a type of punishment. Its fair to say that I am finding life a challenge, the last six months especially, and I could really use a bit of stress relief. But guilt has kept me from stocking up in the english section of the library. Silly, really but I havent been reading much because I feel I'm wasting time I could be otherwise using to learn french, either by reading french books or the newspapers or listening to the radio or watching French in Action at night.

It all comes back, I think, to having unrealistic expectations of what I should be achieving and thinking that I have to be able to speak french fluently within a certain amount of time. As David keeps telling me there really is no hurry. Maybe I somehow equate becoming fluent in french with really feeling like I fit in here when in fact one does not necessarily mean the other.

So, I'm going to try and lighten up a bit and read for pleasure again. My new goal for 2008 is to do one better than last year. I plan to read 3 french books. But I wont be starting just yet as I just got a really good thriller from the english language section of the library!

7 comments:

Guera said...

Good idea Penny. If you set the bar too high, it will just become a chore, I think. I am still getting around to completing my challenge of ONE book in Spanish! Haven´t even bought it yet...

Rosebank Magic said...

You went to France to enjoy life not just to run up a list of achievements. Relax and treat yourself to some of the things in life you enjoy most - I know that reading is high on that list.

Destination Metz said...

You shouldn't restrict yourself from reading in English, why deny life's pleasures? And I find reading here just about saves my sanity! It makes me feel less disconnected to the world as it can be quite alienating being surrounded by French.

Penny said...

You are right, Dest Metz. I can get really silly ideas about some things!

Andromeda said...

"Maybe I somehow equate becoming fluent in french with really feeling like I fit in here when in fact one does not necessarily mean the other."

i think you just explained why i too freak out so much about my own language skills! thank goodness for blogs, or i don't know what kind of crazy things i'd be thinking. :-)

Grominou2 said...

If it's not pleasant to read in French, maybe you're just not ready yet? Maybe try again in six months, but without any sense of obligation?

Penny said...

Gen - you know, you are probably right...but i just got a sci-fi thriller in french out of the library so I'm going to give it a go soon :)